Govt insincere on sport

HARARE - The greatest shame Zimbabwe’s sport has suffered from is lack of commitment from government.

To be blunt, they just don’t care.

They would rather pour thousands of dollars into a once-off football match than put up a budget to sustain the needs of a national team.

They would rather promise the Zimbabwe national rugby team thousands of dollars if they are to qualify for the Rugby World Cup but will not put up a cent towards the preparations and upkeep of players during the qualifiers.

While it is only natural to expect nothing short of success from sport in the country, it is rather naïve to think that much can be gained without financial support from government.

There is no better model that puts this into perspective than the recently held African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea that saw the majority of the 16 nations bankrolled by their governments.

The government of Ghana spent $5, 8 million on the Black Stars’ preparations and participation in the Afcon tournament.

The Zambian government poured in about $4 million, for the tournament alone.

History will recall that Zimbabwe’s government allocated the entire ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture a paltry $6 million for the whole year.

That allocation would go towards servicing salaries at the ministry of Sport, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), shared across the 51 sport codes as well as all the disciplines that encompass arts and culture.

Unfortunately, it’s an allocation on paper but coming from a government that is struggling to put food on the table for millions of families, it would be a miracle if it is ever disbursed.

It is thus no surprise that once state-of-the-art facilities such as Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex, Mbare Netball Complex, Gwanzura Stadium, Magamba Hockey Stadium and the National Sports Stadium continue to deteriorate unabated.

On the other end, the SRC — the supreme sports mother body have been left clutching at straws to the extent that Commissioners have not been paid for the last two years.

So dire is their situation that their operations are being sustained through the six percent levy on the gate takings from football clubs.

What is surprising is that when local clubs participating in continental competitions seek assistance from the SRC to fund their travels across Africa, they are turned away without any cent.

When Dynamos, the country’s most successful team, pulled out of the 2015 African Champions League, the SRC and the government all acted as if nothing had happened.

Despite all this pandemonium, others still believe changing football leadership will transform the fortunes of the sport we all love so dearly.

I would like to agree with them, but facts are stubborn.

Sadly in Zimbabwe it is not about how well-run an organisation is or the talent it possesses that gets it corporate support, but it is all about political patronage.

If that was not the case then Tennis Zimbabwe with all that talent would not struggle to host a Davis Cup tie.

In disciplines such as swimming, hockey, golf and athletics, parents would not have taken over the role of government, financially assisting the various age-grade national teams.

Boxing which boasts of Charles Manyuchi’s exploits would not be teetering on the brink of collapse.

Cricket and rugby would not be losing their best talent to other countries.

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